Police excessive-force cases are an inexact science. A Los Angeles man possessing cocaine and a shotgun was shot by an officer in 1997, losing a thumb and a finger. In April, he recovered $2 million. Also in April, the Los Angeles City Council approved a $440,000 settlement for a teenager who was armed with a shotgun but alleged he was falsely arrested by former Los Angeles police Officer Rafael Perez.
Predicting what a jury might do is even trickier, experts say.
Albert DeBlanc, an attorney hired by Inglewood to try the Surjue case if necessary, says his role would be to challenge damages alleged by Surjue and her sons. “The question for a jury is what are your real damages?” says DeBlanc. “Are you a C-2 quadriplegic, or did you get your feelings hurt?
“Juries do what they want, based on the personalities of the people in front of them or whatever’s going on in the world. That’s why people get nervous about jury trials.”